SAY Seoul and Myeong-dong may be the first word that you’ll hear, from shopaholics at least. K-Pop will top the list perhaps, but Pinoys (who are genetically shoppers) will point you to this place.
It would be my first trip to the Seoul and I asked the frequent travelers where I should stay and which places to visit. Myeong-dong was the most common reply. Nami Island, too. The latter became popular because of the Korean telenovelas, which I’m not really a fan of. Autumn seems to be the best time to see that island.
Well, I didn't stay in Myeong-dong but in another address—Dongdaemun, another jewel in the city.
Myeong-dong, however, was the first place I explored upon arrival. It offered a lot of discoveries.
Arriving in the city at noon via a delayed red eye flight, lunch was in order and recommended was a restaurant in Myeong-dong. It was easy to find in the maze of streets lined with shops and filled with shoppers, thanks to the Information Officers posted in very visible areas around the district.
I am not a fan of Korean food as I’m too lazy to cook. I love kimchi though. But after tasting the very tender beef offered, my love affair with Korean cuisine was born. Suffice to say, I ate a lot and exploring the place was the perfect way to burn the calories.
Myeong-dong is the busiest district in Seoul, I was told. I witnessed that for myself. The area is half of city’s financial hub (the other is Yeouido, where the Korea Stock Exchange is) and one of the main shopping centers and tourist destinations. What luxury brand is it you're a fan of? You will find it in this area. One won’t come as a surprise to know that Myeong-dong was ranked as one of the most expensive streets in the world in the past.
What else is hot? Face masks. Just about every few steps shops with offers of the beauty implement were being peddled to passersby. Costs go for half the price it’s sold for in the Philippines. Korea is a paradise for beauty products (and cosmetic procedures) and it’s a big business.
When night falls the streets get more crowded with food carts take their posts and hungry tourists and locals partake of the street food. Who sells best? Those with brilliant marketing gimmicks. The scent of the food may lure in the buyer but the other cart with a unique scheme can steal your client. Well, the good-looking peddlers do have an edge.
If you’re as curious as a cat, then try the delights along the street. But don't miss out on exploring the specialty food shops on the sidestreets. A future favorite may be in one of the alleys. I found mine in Osulloc, a tea shop with a café that serves tea in its most delicious forms—from a simple hot drink to the most decadent dessert.
There is much to discover in Myeong-dong, and I’m up for another bout with the busy district on my next visit.
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